Episode 15: Courses, Workshops, Photography Apps, Workflow, and Ethics!

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In Episode 15 of the Improve Photography Podcast, Jim and Dustin answer listener questions about photography apps, workflow, ethics, and also give some info about our courses and the flash photography workshop coming soon in Boise!

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Guide to Episode 15

[0:34] Dustin bought a new camera – the Canon 6D.

This camera is Canon's entry-to-full-frame camera. At roughly $2100, this is an amazing camera for the full-frame price. Traditionally cheapest full-frame camera was well over $3000, but now Canon, Nikon, and Sony have released some less expensive full-frame cameras.

Dustin's favorite feature is the built-in wifi and the app that goes on his phone for this, which allows him to view the photos on the phone or take photos with it and see the live view, etc.

Jim asks why Dustin chose the Canon 6D over the Nikon D600, since here in the office they use Nikon cameras. Dustin's reasons? He really likes the Canon menu system, and ease of using the settings; the Nikon menu system is not as intuitive as the Canon menu system. He also bought it because he had some old accessories that would fit the Canon camera (extension tubes, flash gear, etc).

[3:19]  Online photography classes (30-Day Beginner Photography Course and 30-Day Intermediate Photography Course) are starting March 6th!

If you've been thinking about signing up for our beginner or intermediate classes, use coupon code PODCAST5 to get $5 off the cost of class registration.

In these online photography classes, you get a 10 minute video lesson from Jim and Dustin every day for 30 days. This allows you to learn one new technique every day, which adds up to a lot of learning by the end of the course! These videos are there for you forever, even after the class ends, even years down the road. Additionally, Jim and Dustin are totally available to class students – you get their cell phone numbers, email addresses, and we encourage our students to send in their photos to ask for feedback and advice! Find out more about these classes by going here.

[5:02] I just bought my first smartphone and would like to know your favorite apps for the business side of photography.

Great apps for the business side of photography:

  • Expensify In almost every country, you have to keep track of different things throughout the year to send in at tax time. It allows you to take a picture of your receipt with your phone, and fills in the fields from this picture (or you can enter them manually). You can add expenses to your account no matter where you are, whether you're purchasing from the store or online. Additionally, it does a great job tracking mileage (which is great because in most countries you can deduct mileage from your taxes if you're running a business). You can turn Expensify on when you start driving and it will use the GPS in your phone to track your mileage expenses.
  • Square This is a tiny little device that plugs in to the audio jack on your phone (works with iOS and Android devices) and allows you to slide a credit card and charge your customers right on the spot! You don't have to send invoices, hound your customers for payments, etc.
  • Billings This is a desktop and phone app that helps you generate invoices for your clients and then lets you email or print out these invoices.

Great apps for the photography side of your photography business:

  • Instagram This is a great app for quickly sharing photos with friends and family.
  • Snapseed A great app for easily enhancing, editing, and sharing photos (for iOS and Android devices).
  • TPE: The Photographer's Ephemeris  This app helps you plan outdoor photography shoots.
  • Google Star Tracker This app is great for night photography and tracking locations of stars, the moon, and other objects in the night sky. (Android)

[9:05] What type of settings are best for photography in the winter time, specifically when it snows?

If you want to take pictures of snowflakes, you will need a good macro lens, close focus filter, or an extension tube so you can focus on things really close to the camera. Additionally, if you're interested in snowflake photography, search for Don Komarechka on Google+. He takes amazing pictures of a snowflake every single day and uploads it, documenting his process.

For general wintertime photography, it is very important to understand the concept of metering in highlights and shadows. With snow, the camera thinks you are looking right at the sun. The camera will try and do all it can to compensate for that in aperture priority or shutter priority mode. But if you're in manual mode, then you should have a pretty good idea of what you're doing.

[11:36] I'm going to Yellowstone National Park to photograph wildlife. I don't have very expensive equipment or a professional telephoto lens. Any tips on how I can get the most out of the experience?

Photographing wildlife can be really tough for most photographers, because a serious wildlife photographer will use a lens that costs about $10,000 USD. Most of us don't have that kind of budget, but we all love to shoot wildlife. To help you get the best photos with the gear you have when you want more focal length than you have, first be sure to shoot a subject that's reasonable for you to shoot. Don't shoot tiny little birds – you're better off shooting bison, bears, elk, or large animals and you will be less frustrated trying to get good pictures of them than you would be trying to get tiny birds landing on berries.

To get more focal length, you can use a teleconverter. This device sounds enticing because it promises to make a 300 mm lens into a 600 mm lens. But when you put on a 2x teleconverter, you're also losing two stops of light which is enough that your camera probably won't be able to focus (and certainly won't be able to in low light). So for most consumer lenses, using a teleconverter is a poor choice.

Instead, you should consider renting a lens from borrowlenses.com or LensRentals. Renting a lens is not terribly expensive, especially when you're taking a big trip. Once you've spent the money to take the big trip, a little more for a decent lens really isn't that hard to swallow.

Finally, if buying a $10,000 lens or renting a lens is not an option, you should take a look at the new micro 4/3s cameras – these give you a ton of magnification, but the drawback is that you lose phase detection focus (which means your focus is going to be a little bit slower).

[17:47] What is your workflow from getting your pictures into Lightroom through the end of processing them for your customer? What is a good streamlined process?

Workflow can be different, depending on the person or the type of photographer. Read more about this topic here.

[28:16] A discussion of the ethics of photo editing.

One thing we hear a lot of is that people feel very apprehensive about photoshopping their own photos. We love editing our photos, but when we do that we hear a lot from other photographers that this is “cheating” or “unethical”. When is it appropriate to photoshop a picture?

This discussion differs between landscape and portrait photography. It is common to hear people complain about blemish removal or digital liposuction. However, with landscape photography, there is a lot more forgiveness for photo editing.

We feel there is nothing ethically wrong with editing a landscape photograph. Some people call you a “digital artist” if you edit your landscape photography, but it doesn't change the fact that you're trying to create something beautiful, similar to the way a painter would paint the landscape on a canvass. Remember that other people work differently than you do – this is art, and art is about expression, not precision. (Of course, if you are taking a landscape photo to use for the news, it is obvious that you shouldn't change the photo.)

With portraits, it can be different. Photoshopping can produce positive and negative effects on people. It can make people feel terrible because they will feel a need to try to look like something they can't ever become (think teenagers and magazines), but it can also make people feel great about themselves – clearing up a little acne or removing a scratch can help someone feel much better about the way they look in photos.

A lot of photographers feel that Photoshop is cheating or not “real” photography. Photoshop requires just as much skill as being a quality photographer behind the camera. Everyone will approach the computer and photography differently, and that is ok. Be true to what you think is the best art that you can create, but don't be so narrow-minded to think that your way of doing art is the only way out there. We cheapen ourselves when we fail to recognize and accept the uniqueness of our individual photography.

[41:24] Workshop in Boise!!!

Jim and Dustin will be teaching a two day workshop about flash photography in Boise, Idaho. We want you to feel really confident about flash photography, and we want you to walk away with a ton of really good quality photos. There will be plenty of models, we will be throwing a mock wedding, and you will get some great experience and learn some really great stuff from the guys here at ImprovePhotography.com!!! To learn about this workshop and to sign up, please go to improvePhotography.com/store/.

[43:48] Prizes for reviews!

The winner is mrschelle68.  If that's your username on iTunes, email Jim at [email protected] to get your free online photography class.

To be entered to win the online photography class each week, simply go to this podcast on iTunes and write a one or two sentence review.  While they appreciate a a 5-star review, any review will get you entered to win a class for free (a $98 value).

[44:35] Doodads of the Week

Dustin's pick of the week is for his iPhone. ioShutter  is a cable release which plugs into the audio jack on the phone and connects to your camera. With the app that comes with this for your phone, you can do awesome time lapse photography.

Jim's doodad of the week is a 3rd party battery grip (a big chunk of plastic that goes under your camera that holds an additional battery for your camera). This gives you an additional shutter button, which puts the button in the right area for turning the camera on its side. Battery grips are usually very expensive if you buy them from the camera manufacturer, but you can buy a third party battery grip on Amazon.com for $40-$80, depending on the camera.

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